Day 177 – Pardon Me, Can I Steal Your Ideas?

I spy Hosta, Alocasia, Lotus, Oregano, Blue Stem Grass, Black Pearl ornamental pepper, and a couple of other things that I’m not too sure of.

I saw this planting at a wonderful nursery south of Athen, Ga, a few years ago. The container plantings there were fabulous, and they had peaches that were out of this world. And I can’t for the life of me remember what the name of that nursery was!

 

Day 173 – My Husband Plants This to Attract Ducks

The folks at Watercolor Place on the Panhandle of Florida planted this to bring in the plant quacks like me. I make a special detour through this development every year to see what interesting and beautiful plantings these folks have come up with and this one really rocked my boat.


Millet! Surrounded by interesting things like Scaevola, Verbena, Candy Corn vine, or the variegated potato vine in the top photo. I’m wondering if this is Ornamental Millet Purple Majesty.

 

Day 172 – Remembering the Novice Gardener’s Champion: Roger Waynick




Several years ago I sat across from the founder of Cool Spring Press and I heard his story of hunting through bookstores trying to find a book that would help him learn the basics of gardening in Tennessee. Nilch, nada, nothing was out there to guide him.
Most people would try to find another hobby.
Roger Waynick started his own publishing company to bring new gardeners like himself the info they need to simply get started.
His voice struck a chord with me, stirring the stories I’d experienced of helping that young mom keep her planters going all summer or helping the retired couple finally have the lush, colorful courtyard they’d been dreaming about. Roger’s publishing company gave me resources to pass on to these novice gardeners – books like Judy Lowe’s “Month by Month Gardening in Tennessee and Kentucky” and “Tough Plants for Southern Gardens” by Felder Rushing. Helping new gardeners find a little success keeps them coming back outside each spring to try something a little more challenging.
So here’s one of my favorite combos in memory of Roger Waynick, founder and president of Cool Springs Press, who passed away March 22, 2011, at age 5o:
Red Pentas – host plant to the Sphinx moth. This is a tribute to how Roger’s publishing company has helped bring gardening up from the ashes of a lost art to become one of the top areas of interests in our society today.
Dusty Miller – a plant known for being tough and reliable, a perfect example of the type plant to introduce to the first time gardener.
Evolvulus Blue Daze – a plant whose name comes from the Latin meaning to “untwist”. Unraveling the mysteries of gardening was the passion behind Roger’s beginning Cool Springs Press.
I know that there is so much more to who Roger Waynick was than what I knew as one of his writers. But this one part of his life left a huge impact on my life for which I will be forever grateful.

 

Beware the Deceiver – An Annual Reminder

A rerun from my Garden Compositions in Nashville House, Home, and Garden March 2008:

BEWARE THE DECEIVER!!

Some call him the seducer, the way he woos us with his warmth. He skews our perspective and flirts with what he knows are our ultimate intentions. Last year, I hate to admit, even I found myself succumbing to his overt advancements. I’m not talking George Clooney here. It’s the month of March that can lure even the most faithful gardener to transgress our prudish adherence to not plant annuals until after Tax Day. The seduction of early spring, the lure of brilliantly colored flowers topping tables at all the big box stores, the longing to feel the dirt in our hands – all these combine to bring down the florally starved gardeners who think, “Surely this year we won’t get caught with a late freeze!”

THE REALITY

Last year we all learned our lesson. With February and March of 2007 bringing temperature that aligned more with April and May, many folk were convinced that global warming had eliminated our winter. By the end of March I was seeing annual beds being planted, baskets of spring flowers being hung, and Boston ferns placed in urns. Granted, in some years the meticulous gardener can escape the damage of late frost by covering their flowers or bringing containers into their garage. But last year’s three day deep freeze in early April defied preparation and protection. It’s time to encourage the Victorian Age rule of planting for Middle Tennessee: “Don’t plant your annuals and tropicals until after April 15!” I’ll even add another word of caution here. Many of the gardening old-timers that I love to glean information from swear by the fact that they will not plant annuals until after Mother’s Day (a good two weeks after April 15). Late April 2005 brought temperatures in the upper 20s at night – enough to decimate plants like impatiens, coleus, or mandavilla vines.

DEFYING THE DECEIVER

With warm afternoons beckoning us to action but responsibility controlling our purse-strings, here’s a list of early spring activities that help you prepare the way for a gorgeous and healthy spring display of annual color. Just so we’re all on the same wave-length, I’ll give a quick explanation of what I’m talking about when I discuss annual color:

Encarta Dictionary describes “annuals” as a “plant that dies after one season”. In our area this is a long list that you can best explore by checking out these two web sites:

http://utgardens.tennessee.edu

http://ugatrial.hort.uga.edu

  1. Visit the websites above to read about which annuals and tropicals best handled our past two scorching summers. You’ll find plants listed by botanical name, but you’ll also find the name that grandma used to call it! Make note of the specific variety – for example, not all geraniums perform the same. Look for these varieties in local nurseries.
  2. Amend your annual beds with products such as Erth Food, soil from the Compost Farm (794-1483), Nature’s Helper Soil Amendments, or other good soil enrichments.
  3. Visit the Bloom N Garden Expo (April 8-10) at the Williamson County Expo. Not only do they have great displays, but this is one of the best places to buy plants and garden accessories, plus learn lots from their line-up of speakers.
  4. Start planting in your perennial beds. Two great new books out to help you decide what to plant where: “Southern Shade: A Plant Selection Guide” or “Southern Sun: A Plant Selection Guide” both by Jo Kellum.